Welcome to Ben and Julie's Missionary Page
April 2005 Update

The monkey at "The Pit" where missionaries shop for souvenirs

Bats Snail
The bat colony is still "hanging out" in the
tree tops on Independance Avenue in Accra.
This snail is a little guy, only 2" long.
A full grown one is bigger than your fist.

Feral Cat The wild life we see in West Africa is interesting. We are getting used to seeing new animals. But there is one fact that reminds us things are different. We have seen three of the four species in these pictures being sold along the roads for human consumption. Three of these things belong together, three of these things are kinda' the same. But one of these things just doesn't belong here, now it's time to play our game....
A Feral Cat

Features in This Update Include:
Missionaries in Ghana
Click to jump directly to missionary pictures.

Some of Our Favorite People
Click to jump directly to pictures of people.

Elder Markham believes that having a Ghanaian driver's licence entitles him to drive like a Ghanaian. Or as he says, you have to drive like a Ghanaian to survive. The roads and traffic are interesting: helter skelter traffic, pedestrians, hawkers all over, no lines or lanes, and bathtub sized potholes. Sister Markham says she'll pull his driver's licence for at least six months when he's back in the US. Elder Markham is comtemplating a new video game design. It will have a lot of challenges to contend with. Crazy Traffic
Coming at You

Crazy Traffic Pot Holes
Coming together--like it or not! Dodg'em cars with Pot Hole Hazards

We love to eat mangos fresh from the tree.
The large, spreading mango trees are beautiful to look at.

Large Mango Tree
Mango Tree with Fruit

Sister Markham's favorite flower this month.

The Red Fuzzy-Wuzzy
The Beautiful Red Fuzzy-Wuzzy
We don't know the real name.

To enjoy more flowers that Sister Markham found this month,
click on the button below.

Some Missionaries in Ghana We Are Privileged to Associate With

Obruni Sisters
Sister Silfverberg from Sweden and Sister Leota from Samoa via BYU Provo
are the only Sister Missionaries in Ghana who are not from Africa.
Sister Leota recently completed an exceptional mission
and can soon be found shivering in Provo!

Elder Orr Elder Royal
Elder Orr who arrived in Ghana
on the flight with us.
Elder Royal from Georgia by way of Ivory
Coast serving in Achimota with Elder Orr.

Elder Sim Elder Gould
Elder Sim from England with
cheeseburger, fries (chips) and shake.
Elder Gould from Wales
Is he enjoying the cheeseburger or what!
We live in the North Ridge Ward, Accra Christiansborg Stake. Elders Sim and Gould are currently assigned to this ward. They teach people in the area where we live and at the temple complex. When time permits, Elder Markham goes with them to teach investigators. Expenses for young missionaries are paid by the Church Missionary fund. A commitment to donate $375 US equivalent per month to the Missionary Fund is required before a missionary from North America and Western Europe is called to serve. For other countries the amount varies, but generally represents the same level of sacrafice. Families and friends often help meet this requirement. Missionary housing is the largest expense covered by the fund. In the Ghana Accra Mission, each missionary receives about $2.75 US equivalent per day for sustenance. They pay for their food (and water), transportation, personal items (like toothpaste and soap) and any incidental costs from this meager allowance. All missionaries in Ghana get the same amount, but cost of living is higher around Accra, so it takes discipline and planning to get by. Besides offering rides when possible, Elder Markham buys an occasional lunch for Elders Sim and Gould to help out. This lunch is not their normal fare (they can't afford it). But the lunch was clearly appreciated. They also stop in to our office on their preparation day to email their families using our portable internet connection. This saves the cost of an internet cafe.

Sister Wallace Sister Wallace's Hairdo
Sister Wallace
Her brother is the best ward clerk
we have found in Ghana.
Sister Wallace's New 'Do

Elder and Sister Strong Elder Markham's Computer Shop
Elder and Sister Strong from Provo
are the new Humanitarian Service missionaries.
We had lunch with them to hear about their
recent trip to Sierra Leone.
Elder Markham helps other Senior Missionaries
with computers. He does updates and minor fixes
as needed. Some days his computer shop is busy.
The Strongs are evaluating Humanitarian Service work in Sierra Leone. They spent time with Elder and Sister Thomas visiting some small projects that have been funded as pilots. At a member's home they saw a baby boy who had been born just that morning. The mid-wife was still there with her "kit" which contained five items: a small bottle of alcohol, gauze, string, scissors and cotton. The family had named the baby "Elder Thomas" after the missionary who works so hard to serve the members in Sierra Leone. We think it is a fitting tribute to a great man.

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Elder Markham recently added one more notch to his walking stick. His birthday fell on the Monday after Easter, which was a Ghanaian national holiday called "Good Monday." We are not sure about the historical basis for this name, but it made a nice four day weekend in the Spring. Sister Markham made him a chocolate cake for his birthday. What a great companion!! Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake
The candles are for years to 60.

Julie's Souvenirs
Sister Markham has collected a few African souvenirs.
If the trend toward the tall, skinny ones continues,
Elder Markham may need to worry!

Here is the shop/sign of the month contest.
Click to see this month's results.

The people of Ghana are wonderful.
Here are a few of our favorites.

Head Carrier with Fuel Sticks Head Carrier with Bread Sticks
Head Carrier with Fuel Sticks
Whether they have been gathering fuel...
Head Carrier with Bread Sticks
...or are out to sell their product,
we love to see the graceful people.

Head Carrier with Propane Tank The Morning Water Brigade
We are often amazed at what is
on top---like this propane tank.
Maybe there is something to the idea
of keeping the weight centered on the back.
Look at the water level in the closest
bucket. These children fetching water
for their families are carrying heavy loads.

Watching hawkers provides entertainment for us as we drive around Accra. You can buy anything right from your car. We don't buy much this way, partly because there tends to be an 'obruni tax' on goods without marked prices. These men are selling 'fresh fish.' If you drive by 8 hours later the fish in the pans look the same. They actually have plastic bags in their pockets to use if you buy a fish. Can you imagine riding home in a Tro-Tro sitting next to one of these fellows who has been hawking fish in the sun all day! Hawkers with 'Fresh' Fish
Fresh Fish Hawkers

Lunch Provided by Hawkers
This is typical at any traffic signal in Accra.
around lunch time. You can get fresh bread,
fried plantains and crisp South African apples.
There are also frozen yogurt bars for dessert--all
without leaving the road for a drive-thru window.

Vendors: Our Life Line

Amina, the Banana Lady While hawkers flow with the traffic and move to where the demand is perceived, there are vendors who sell the same products at the same place and time each day or week. Senior missionaries have a set of trusted vendors on whom we depend. The set changes slowly as new sources are discovered, or old suppliers close up shop. These people become our good friends. Amina, the banana lady shown here, is a case in point. In a hurry to get some bananas on our first shopping trip in Accra, we happened to see some good looking bananas at a street vendor as we were leaving a store, so we bought a few. They were great. Over the next few weeks we bought bananas several times---but none were very good. We remembered the lady who had sold us good bananas, so we found her again and bought some more. They were great. After several months she became our exclusive banana supplier. There are banana vendors in every block, but we drive by many to get to Amina. We have asked her where she gets her fruit. She goes to the same wholesale source as most other banana vendors in that area. When she is not there--early morning or when she travels on holidays--we try the vendors in the area who use the same source. They don't compete--too ripe, too green, not as sweet. Amina has the eye for good fruit and we have spread her reputation to other obrunis. Now when Elder Markham goes for his dollar's worth, she gives him twice as many as she did at first. He always tips her a dime or two.

Some vendors are church members, like Brother Addy shown here. He has an oven in Tema about 20 miles from Accra. Each Tuesday he brings very good, fresh bread to the temple complex. It costs about 60 cents a loaf. There are loaves and rolls of white and whole wheat. Brother Addy works in the Temple on Wednesdays and Thursdays. His wife and an adult daughter live in Alabama, but he says he wants to stay in Ghana to work in the Temple. He is going to the U.S. next month for a visit. He told Sister Markham if he moved to Alabama he would – and then instead of finishing the sentence, he did a perfect imitation of a couch potato, with not only his arms and legs stretched out, but his tongue hanging from his mouth! Brother Addy, the Bread Vendor
Brother Addy the Bread Man

Edward Osu--Electronics, Etc. Vendor Edward Delivers Again
Edward Osu--Electronics, Etc. Vendor Edward Delivers Again

Elders Markham and Leishman Shop Location Persceptive
Elders Markham and Leishman shop
in "the telepone booth," Edward's shop.
Edward's shop sits on a underdeveloped
lot along a busy commercial street.
The Edward Osu Story
Told in first person by Elder Markham

The three members of the Africa West Area Presidency (General Authorities of the Church) recently got new satellite based cell phones. These phones work anywhere, so they are very convenient for people who travel every week. On the very day that these three men were leaving for Salt Lake to attend the April General Conference, someone realized that their battery chargers had the big three pronged UK power cords. While we all use US to UK adapters, no one knew where to get an adapter that went from UK to US. I decided to try Edward Osu. Before leaving the office building, I asked the Church purchasing agent if he knew a likely source. He started to describe a small, difficult to locate shop near a landmark I knew. I said, “Oh, Edward Osu’s shop.” He smiled and said, “So you know it---he will have the adapter.”

It turns out the best approach was to plug two adapters together to get the connections we needed. Edward was short of one of the items but knew where to get it and said, “I can bring it tomorrow.” I told him I had to that day. He offered to come with me to get it, leaving his younger brother to mind the shop. We drove to the center of the old part of Accra, found a car park, then walked into a catacomb of small wholesale shops. There was no order here. Electrical items were next to fabric which was next to food, and that was next to luggage, etc. I struggled to keep up with Edward as we walked. I had to watch my step on the uneven pavement, watch out for masses of people going in all directions. Most had loads on their heads or in their arms. Edward turned down a very dark alley that I saw was a dead end. I followed with trepidation. At the end on the left was a small store so stuffed with electrical items that it made Edward’s shop look spacious. They had the adapters. Edward ordered more than I needed and then ordered a few other items. I realized he was using this trip with me to stock up for his shop. I offered to pay for my adapters, but he told me he should pay to ensure the best price and we would settle later. There were Christian signs in the store and the owner spotted my nametag and engaged me in a friendly religious discussion. He was a very devout man. When the business was complete, I took the sack of goods and announced that I was the helper and would carry it for Edward. Everyone roared with laughter.

As we headed back to the car, Edward asked if I was scared. I said that being with him made it OK, but I was not likely to do this alone. He asked if we could stop at a few more shops for him. He said it would only take 15 minutes. When I agreed, he veered off into a new market area that was even darker and more crowded. After three stops, several large sacks of wares, and a lot of laughs about Edward’s unlikely porter, we emerged back to the light near the car park. What an experience! I will never understand how anyone ever finds these shops, how they get supplied or how ‘market’ prices are set. But there were thousands of happy people buying and selling anything you could imagine. Edward had turned a favor to me into a successful business trip for both of us.

During the 20 minute rides each way, I learned that Edward was from Kumasi. He came to Accra 15 years ago after high school. He worked as a street hawker of electrical supplies for seven years. He is smart and learned where and when to find good customers. He finally saved enough to buy a table and an inventory. For the next five years he carried the table and the inventory to and from a spot he had found on a busy street and established himself as an electrical supply vendor. His room (residence) was a 30 minute walk each way. Three years ago, he was able to ‘expand’ his business through acquisition of a large closet-like structure with locking doors, so he no longer carries his inventory each day. This has allowed the variety and volume of his wares to greatly increase. The Accra Metropolitan Authority is trying to get rid of street hawkers and vendors like Edward. During British colonial times all goods were sold in stores. But the difficult economic times in the past few decades have produced a hawker/small vendor community that is ubiquitous. The extreme inflation rates wiped out business capital, so most would-be merchants lack the capital to do anything more than a table or shop like Edward has done. He has a goal to own a store some day but wonders if that will ever be possible in Ghana. He ‘befriends’ the owners of the house behind where his shop sits. He goes to the Metropolitan Authority to get a wavier for his shop about twice a year. He fears that as more stores are opened on the street where he is located, the city code will eventually be enforced and he will have to relocate. Two years ago he sent a large amount of money to a cousin living in France on the promise of getting a green card visa for the US. He now realizes the money is gone and immigration is not likely.

Edward told me his regular customers include Mormon missionaries and Russian Embassy personnel. In his spare time at the shop he takes apart electrical things to learn how they work. I have seen him ‘investigating’ car stereo systems, small motors, and small appliances. His knowledge is the reason we like him. I can tell him my problem and he will suggest how to ‘fix’ (which often means work around) it. Most vendors don’t understand their wares this well. Edward is at his shop about 10 hours a day, six days a week. He is a Christian and has a wife and two children. He is one of our favorite people!

Daniel, the Electrician We are also collecting a list of reliable contractors to keep missionary apartments in good shape. Owners don't do much, so renters have to fix things. This is Daniel the electrician. He is a member of the Church. We have used him for minor repairs and we like his work. We live in a four-plex with Elder and Sister Lords occupying the other ground level apartment. Sister Lords fell over a poorly placed step in a restaurant and broke her pelvis. The break was clean and the hip joints were not involved. She wanted to stay in Ghana and convalesce at her apartment. Only three days after her fall, on a very hot Sunday afternoon, we came home to find the Lords' apartment without power, though our apartment had electricity. Sister Lords needed air conditioning but she hurt too much to move. We called Daniel, who came immediately. The problem was the power grid which delivers 440 volts on two lines. One line was down and all houses in our area only had half power. For our building, the power was split with two apartments on each line. Daniel quickly jumped the power from the good line to all four apartments after disconnecting the dead line. This worked fine, though we worried that a fuse might blow. He said there was plenty of capacity. It worked for two days until the power company restored full sevice and Daniel returned to reverse his jumpover. He worked on hot lines as there are no breakers, fuses or switches to isolate the incoming lines.

Edwina and Son Emma Baddo at 4 Months
The babies are also favorites.
This is Edwina and son at a family
history training in Nungua Ward.
Snuggling on his Mom's back,
not the subject, put him to sleep.
Miss Emma Baddoo at Four Months
We showed a picture of her as an infant
during the temple lighting event.

Foster's Son Seth in Oda Branch
We met this little boy while visiting
Achimota Ward. His father is our
friend Foster who is a maintenance
worker at the temple complex.
Seth is a bright and very helpful
young man in the Oda Branch. Oda
is a village about 3 hours from Accra.

Nigerians at the Temple Nigerians at the Temple
We love to see the Saints from
West Africa come to the beautiful
temple in Accra. These three made
the two day road trip from Nigeria.
The Izodemeen family (Peter, Glory,
and Kate) came from Benin City, Nigeria
to be sealed as an eternal family.

Christmas Tie Mike Foley, a Church leader in Nsawam, shows off a Christmas tie in March. Sister Markham sang, "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," which he didn't know. He said, "That's not what the tie plays." Then pushed the button and the tie played Jingle Bells! Wouldn't it be interesting to know the life history of this tie? The eyes still light up when the music plays.

Faustina Otoo is one of the pioneer members of the Church in West Africa. She is the receptionist for the Church Administrative Office. Her knowledge of everything and everybody is very helpful for us as missionaries. To us and many others she is known as Auntie Faustie. She greets us each morning as Auntie Julie and Papa Ben. Last year she visited a daughter, son-in-law and grandchild in Provo. When asked if she was considering moving there, she concluded, "It is too cold to live there." She said she was house-bound because her face was so cold outside. Sister Markham dreams of having a cold face again! Faustina Otoo
Auntie Faustie

Frank Osei-Tawiah On the left is another fixture in our lives, Frank Osei-Tawiah. Frank manages security for the Church in Ghana. He is a retired police officer and maintains close relations with the Ghana National Police. He is shown here giving an officer a tour of the temple complex. When there is a problem for a missionary such as a traffic accident, Frank makes sure things are handled properly, promptly and fairly for all involved. He also gives us useful advice about road conditions before our trips.

Joseph Amartey is another pioneer member of the church in Ghana. He was a full-time missionary here in 1984. His integrity and ability to get things done landed him a position as the first full time church employee in Ghana. We have known him as a purchasing agent and automobile fleet manager for the Area Office and the Mission. Last month he made the most difficult decision of his life. His family immigrated to Canada where a brother-in-law is already established. Although the opportunity for his family will likely be much better, his dedication to building the Church's foundation in Ghana made the decision very difficult for Joseph. Only after a clear answer to prayer did he decide to go. So far, we hear he thinks it is very cold in Toronto. Joseph Amartey
Joseph Amartey
The First Church Employee in Ghana

Obituary This funeral announcement was up on most church bulletin boards around Ghana. One of the early leaders, Bishop Badu-Oti, had unexpectedly died from a brain tumor in New York City where he had immigrated. He had been a Bishop of a ward in Accra and was very well known and loved by members here. The bond among the pioneer members of the church is like a fabric of tightly woven Kente cloth. It is one of the most impressive things to witness in Ghana. Those who were members before and during "the freeze" are particularly close. The freeze occurred in 1989 when the government banned the LDS Church in Ghana. It was illegal for members to congregate and police occupied church facilities. The move was prompted by misinformation and politics. Effective efforts by a handful of Ghanaian members resulted in the freeze being completely lifted after 18 months. Rather than a hardship, the early members remember the freeze as a great blessing when the refiner's fire purified the membership to establish the foundation for the tremendous acceptance and growth the Church enjoys here now.

Jennifer and Mary This mother and daughter are recent converts to the Church. Mary, the mother, recently gave a short talk in Sacrament Meeting. She read the talk which she had written in English. She expressed gratitude for her Relief Society (women's organization) sisters who have helped her learn English, including reading and writing, as part of a literacy initiative. She said she was the luckiest woman in the world to have found the true gospel of Jesus Christ and to be receiving such great blessings from it in her life. Jennifer, who helped her mom to write the talk, stood by her mom to help if needed. Although counseled not to applaud in worship services, her talk was so good and the Spirit was so strong that there was spontaneous applause and tears at the end of her message.
Jennifer and Mary in Cantonments Ward

Peter Gyimah
Peter Gyimah (left) meets Elder Schultz, Second Counseler, African West Area Presidency
Elder Markham has helped teach Peter, an investigator. Peter works for the Ghana
National Police. He first heard about the Church in Salt Lake City where he was
part of the security detail that accompanied Ghanaian President Kufuor to a visit with
President Hinckley in 2002. Peter later met missionaries in the UK. He attended church
for the first time this day and joined the applause after Mary's talk.
(Note Daniel, the electrician, just behind Elder Markham.)

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Jake Hill
Eagle Scout Candidate, Jake Hill

Malaria Prevention Eagle Scout Project
Click here to get an update about Jake Hill's excellent project.

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
(Proverbs 25:25)

Kate on Day One
In March our sixth grandchild and third granddaughter
was born. Here is Kate during her first day on earth. Laura
and baby are doing very well, even without us.

May I Pet Her
Big sister Ella is very excited about the new baby.
On Ella's first hospital visit she walked up very close
to Kate and asked, "Can I pet her?"

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